Despite the name, there were no Zoom links. 

For the first time in nearly two years, together with our friends at Haystack and Pardoe Wray, we hosted an in-person event at our Darlington HQ covering tech and finance. 

Our aim was simple: bring people from finance and people from technology together, listen to some great speakers from both worlds (with a beer and pizza in hand) and meet people. See some faces you know, and some you don’t, without the crackling audio and shoddy webcams. 

On a personal note, the event will always be a memorable one. Ctrl. Alt. Meet. is the first of its kind that we’ve hosted since I joined The Verve Group and it was great to be the person to introduce the event to all who attended. 

For those who couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed. 

Adopting tech to improve business 

Rob Simmons, a co-founder and CTO at Haystack, talked us through how companies are adopting tech to improve their processes. Rather than replacing staff, technology should be seen as a tool for supporting your team and essentially giving more time to do the areas of work you enjoy doing. 

With a quickfire question to test people’s knowledge of Moore’s Law, we also heard about how this is just the very beginning of technology in business and alluded to the growth in areas such as cryptocurrency – a field few are yet to relate to business. 

Haystack has a huge future in improving how techies find work and supporting entry-level roles to help continue to grow the technology community across all industries. 

The evolution of fintech 

Cathi Harrison, founder and CEO of The Verve Group, followed on from Rob’s talk and took us on a whistle-stop tour of the pre and post-RDR world of finance and how the approach to tech in finance, and tech as a whole, is out of date. 

What’s important in fintech is supporting growth and efficiency without replacing the human element, meaning pure tech ‘Robo-advice’ is something that we don’t expect to see take off. 

We also heard a little bit about how the likes of Amazon could pose a threat to the advice industry if they wanted to, or could they…? 

The future in finance is bright and that’s because of where technology can take the industry. It’s an exciting time to be at The Verve Group. 

The main event 

It was great to hear from both Rob and Cathi, but we all know that events like this are focused on the food and drink (just being honest!). It was great to share a slice with some great people – including those just beginning their journey into finance and currently training through our We Are Change initiative, as well as some really distinguished people in the North East tech scene. 

It’s easy to wonder ‘what’s the value?’ from a room full of two very different industries. For one, two hours of your time in exchange for great speakers, meeting people and free food and drink is a sound investment proposition (at least to me!). 

Perhaps slightly more importantly though, we’re seeing more and more how the two sectors work together to benefit each and every one of us in our daily lives by improving advice and making money more accessible. 

I’ve spoken about this before in a previous Eclipse, particularly when it comes to finance embracing tech: nobody wants to be first but nobody wants to be last, either. 

Ctrl. Alt. Meet. was a chance to be some of the first in hearing where experts see the two industries going as well as the chance to meet others and share your experience and input in a laidback format. 

Will we meet again? 

In short, yes! We’ve already had so much great feedback and in true Verve fashion, would love to continue Ctrl. Alt. Meet. in an even bigger and better format (perhaps even quarterly? 🤔) 

A huge thank you to our sponsors, Haystack and Pardoe Wray, and to everyone who came yesterday evening and made the evening the success that it was. 

Hope to see you all at the next one! 

Peter Calvert – Chief Technology Officer